NEW ORLEANS. After the final siren, as Kansas transfer guard Remy Martin made his way across the court, he stared triumphantly at the Jayhawks fans, who were pressing against the Superdome railings to get as close to him as possible.
“Rem-ee! Rem!” they sang.
They shouted his name as he was introduced before the National Championship match on Monday night. And again, after his 3-point jumper stepped back, broke a late tie with North Carolina to seal a 72-69 win.
This was the Martin they expected when he moved from Arizona State before the start of the season. The Martin that coach Bill Self and his teammates imagined and hoped to see.
He entered the season as the Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year after dominating the Pac-12 with the Sun Devils, but he was derailed by injury for part of January and most of February. For several months, his status was uncertain as he went from averaging 19.1 points in his junior and senior seasons with the Sun Devils for All-Pac 12 first-team honors to a player who hardly appeared.
After an outstanding 2020–21 season at Arizona State, Martin tested the NBA waters before announcing his decision to move to Kansas, solidifying a busy Jayhawks team as a super senior.
The buzz surrounding his arrival was felt during his debut with the Jayhawks, when he lost 15 points in an exhibition game against Emporia State.
Even then, fans chanted his name as their team’s new point guard, with his magnetic personality and explosive power, added another layer of talent to Kansas’ elite program.
However, in a December game against Nevada, Martin was driving towards the basket when his right knee collided with a Nevada defenseman who slipped into the lane as he ran forward. Martin collapsed to the floor, clutching his knee.
Martin, who was later reported to have a bruised bone, was largely ineffective in subsequent games as he moved to a reserve role. At the beginning of the year, he missed almost a month.
The veteran Jayhawks still found success without him, finishing the regular season with a 25–6 record and sharing the regular season Big 12 title with Baylor. They had senior defenseman Ochai Agbaji, senior forward David McCormack and junior defenseman Christian Brown to help them move forward.
But their chance of seeing everything Martin could add to the team at the end of the season wasn’t until the NCAA Tournament.
“I think Remy always knew deep down what he could do to help us, but we haven’t seen it yet because his health didn’t allow it,” Self said. “I think our guys are more snobby now, knowing that Remy can make us better.”
After his healthy comeback, Martin showed that he was one of the parts that made this Kansas team unstoppable even though the teams tried and nearly succeeded in stopping the Jayhawks from winning the championship.
Martin finished in double figures in each of the first three games of the Kansas tournament, scoring 20 points in the Round of 16 and 23 points in the Round of 16, helping the Jayhawks to small victories over Creighton and Providence.
Martin didn’t play much of a role in the national semi-finals against Villanova, scoring just 3 points, but the Jayhawks hardly needed him after Agbaji’s and McCormack’s career nights.
Against North Carolina, Martin was the driving force behind Kansas’ historic comeback in the second half, in which the Jayhawks closed a 16-point gap to win their fourth national title in program history.
In his role, coming off the bench, Martin created his own shots when his teammates couldn’t, knocking down hard shots just when the Jayhawks needed them.
“In the second half, I just went up to the goal, tried to do something and shot confidently,” Martin said. He added: “I wanted to continue and increase this advantage. And I’m happy that we made it
Martin’s late-game three-pointer was his fourth of the night, more than any other player.
And while his path to the men’s championship was perhaps more difficult than that of most of his teammates, it ended the same way: he stood center stage at the Superdome, blue and red confetti stuck to his championship gear, raising the trophy. national championship.
“This year has been tough for me personally,” Martin said, “only injuries and it’s just sometimes hard to find the rhythm. But it feels great.”